Hoppy Squeeky But

Honestly, I know I'm not the only person in the world to make mistakes. I recognize that I am an intelligent woman and that I'm only human, but I don't like to admit it. And I certainly don't want anyone else to see it.

Mostly, my work, my writing is on the web. Nothing is ever permanent. You make a mistake, one person or a few see it, it gets noticed, and you fix it. No big deal. It goes away like it never happened. And this being a personal blog, well, I tend to worry about that even less. I mean, I run spell check on these things, but spell check doesn't pick up on the words that you skipped or that you typed "here" instead of "hear". I was an English teacher. I know the difference. I often see the difference when someone else wishes I wouldn't.

It doesn't mean I won't make the same mistake as I'm typing along as quickly as my fingers will go, listening to my children fight in the living room, wondering if I'll be able to get this posted tonight, knowing I'm pushing bed time and my luck. Typos happen. Sometimes I get around to fixing them before I post. Sometimes after I post. Sometimes never.

At work, I try to be more careful. But often I'm just as rushed, getting interrupted, trying to accomplish as many tasks in one day as possible. The typos still happen at work. And everyone loves to point out a typo to an English teacher. It's not so bad in an email, something sort of off the cuff to another co-worker. Like an email I sent last week asking if the Buy List was ready to be run. An email I send every month. Except this time, I titled it "But List". Yes, it could have been much worse. I didn't call it the "Butt List". Of course, I got the snarky email back asking what the But List was. I don't blame them. It was funny. It was just funny at my expense, which is just not so funny for me.

Graphics are always worse. You can't spell check in a graphics program. If I'm putting a lot of text in a graphic, I'll often spell check it first in Word. I'm not, despite the English degree, the world's best speller. I've always considered it a weakness I've had to overcome. Writing on the board when I was teaching could be nerve wracking. Students always love to see their teacher make a mistake. And there's no spell check on a chalk board. And you can't always plan what you'll be writing up there during a brain storming session. But over the years, all the reading and the writing, and the conscious effort to get better, it has made a difference. Still, I'm not perfect.

So last year when I designed the yearly calendar of the boys that I give as Christmas gifts every year, a task which takes no less than four hours of searching through photos, image editing and optimization, background selection and caption writing, one of the captions read, "Hoppy Birthday". A silly and forgivable mistake. But one which now exists in print, memorialized in a calendar that is the result of four hours of strain on my back and eyes. It's just such a kick in the teeth.

Print media is unforgivable. There is no do-over. No taking it back. No hiding it from everyone else's eyes.

My boss quit. His last day is Friday. I'm gunning for his position. I'm not sure if they'll give it to me or not. His leaving has spurred a frenzy of training in our department. Certain troubleshooting he does for programs, servers, printers and computers that no one else knows how to do. It's been busy. We're planning a going away party for him Wednesday. He would have received his five year plaque at the Christmas party, so we had an Almost Five Year plaque made up. It reads something like, "Thank you for your hard work and dedication deserting us."

My boss has been keeping a list of some of our CEO's favorite sayings:

  • "We need a bigger boat."
  •  "It's a marketing issue."
  • "It takes a short time to get from here to here."
  • "First to Market"

There are others. Most don't make sense out of context. So we had a beer stein made up with all of these quotes. I did the graphic work. And I did it with a spelling error.

    "The squeeky wheel"

And there's no taking it back. Here I am, trying to make a good impression, and now everyone's calling me Squeaky. I can make up a number of excuses. I spent much time making sure everything was within print margins. It's all done in different fonts, different sizes. Graphically it came out great. Except for the little kick in the teeth.

One of the owners pointed it out. I'm slightly mortified. I have an English degree. I should be above silly little spelling errors. To be completely honest, I'm not sure if it was a typo or a spelling error. But that doesn't really matter, does it?



Halloween was awesome this year. It was perfect trick-or-treat weather. Pretty warm, windy with spooky clouds moving swiftly across the full moon. We did double duty while trick-or-treating, we were also passing out our Scouting for Food Bags. So we'll be driving that same route to pick up canned goods Saturday morning. At least, LT and I will be picking up canned goods. Blackstone has some seminar and Trouble has Saturday school. Yes, Saturday school. It's part of our Title 1 program. Kids with below grade level reading or math skills are invited to attend for extra school time. This is about the third time Trouble's been invited and the second time he's attended. He doesn't mind too much. He reads below grade level. We work with him. I probably don't do it as much as I should, because it's painful. For both of us. I think Trouble would enjoy a root canal more. I know I would. They give you really good pain killers for that. And people are nice to you. They bring you milk shakes and soup, things you don't have to chew. Nobody's nice to you when you're teaching your kid to read. Nobody feels bad. Nobody gives you pain killers and milk shakes. Teaching Trouble to read requires a Vicodin or Xanax chaser.

I first really started pushing the issue when he hit October in his kindergarten year. Up to that point, I just figured he was a little immature, still young, I didn't want to push too hard if he wasn't ready. Well, at some point, one of us had to decide he was ready, and it was getting obvious it wasn't going to be him. He was five-and-a-half and I was trying to teach him five letters at a time. He would not, could not do it. I knew he wasn't brain addled. I tried flash cards, games, jello, pretzels, bribery, yelling, all to no avail. He smashed a glass pumpkin on the kitchen floor out of spite. He was miserable. I was miserable. He hadn't learned any letters.

It has gotten better. Sometimes he can read me a whole chapter of Captain Underpants without any screaming at all. Sometimes.

But, back to Halloween. The boys were both dressed as Swampfire from Ben Ten. I was Princess Leia and Blackstone was a Jedi. I've never been a princess for Halloween before. I guess every girl needs to do that once. Princesses are okay, I just prefer mine to be able to kick some ass. Blackstone is still disappointed I didn't get the gold bikini. I like sexy Halloween costumes fine, I just couldn't see taking the boys trick-or-treating in a bikini. It can be damn cold in October. I'll try to get some pictures up here. That's more coordination than I'm capable of right now. It means actually locating the camera.

Blackstone kept lamenting what a fabulous night it would be to spend at the clubs. Everyone dressed slutty, completely uninhibited. Yeah, I remember those days. They were fun. Now I dress in a chaste, polyester white gown and come home with four gallon bags full of candy. I'm trying to convince myself that this is more fun. I'm losing that battle at the moment. I'd prefer to whoop it up in club in a gold bikini. Well, there's a part of me that would.

Trouble has survived his pumpkin carving accident. He stabbed himself several inches deep with a steak knife after missing the pumpkin. He is so lucky he didn't do any nerve or tendon damage. A he's been telling people, "The pumpkin won."

So all's well that ends well. Time to get my little monsters to bed.


To Flu Shot or Not to Flu Shot

This is my pediatrician's stance on the flu shot.

The flu season and the unusual occurrence of so much flu illness in the summer has brought a lot of issues to the forefront. Pandemic preparation, health dept. preparation, and the media blitz while necessary and helpful, they create a level of anxiety that is not always so helpful.

I want you to know how grateful I am to have patients who maintain their focus and realistically evaluate their risk and alternatives. I will have the flu vaccine in the next 10 days and the H1N1 when it is released for anyone in a high risk group especially those with a chronic medical condition.

I just want to share some observations that relate to flu and viruses in general to help you make a decision, I hope, about getting the vaccines for your children. While all viruses are obviously infectious I think it is likely that because they are DNA/RNA they can be released out of our own cell structure under certain stresses. Herpes viruses like cold sores release sporadically. Chronic mono becomes active disease like chronic fatigue syndrome when the EBV virus is activated. Different stresses seem to activate and even cause new viruses. Getting chilled causes some to catch a cold .Sleeplessness decreases our immune strength, etc. In the past viruses seemed to have a season of increased activity, indicating weather plays one part in allowing a virus to take hold. Chicken pox and hand, foot and mouth disease used to be spring viruses. Diarrheal disease was mostly in the summer; cold and flu viruses were mostly winter viruses. With weather patterns changing things are shifting and flu appeared more this spring and summer than usual. I think we probably had H1N1 as early as April and May before reports of spread from Mexico. Certainly the flu-like symptoms of cases then were similar to those seem later.Viruses do tend to change or mutate. However, they still follow the trend that the elderly, the very young, those with a chronic medical condition are more susceptible to complications.  Because H1N1 was primarily a summer virus it might be too soon for it to mutate or do whatever it needs to do to become more active in the winter also. This is just a guess, but it doesn’t matter because there will be some other strain we still have to deal with anyway. People not in a high risk and even those who are but maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet weather the flu better. Adding the right homeopathic remedy adds to the success rate greatly.

I know it’s a small number but some people who get the flu vaccine get a bad reaction. This actually follows the homeopathic principal-if the vaccine is too strong or concentrated for some they get flu symptoms. Some of these reactions have been very significant with a downturn in a patient’s health for some time. Again this is a small percentage but I’m just uncomfortable recommending something when I can’t predict who it might affect adversely. If there were no other alternative it would be different.

With these latest outbreaks of regular and H1N1 flu, homeopathy has been just as effective as in the past. So, I feel homeopathy is still a viable safer alternative. Just like the standard flu vaccine not being perfect, neither is homeopathy, but at least it doesn’t cause any problems and it still works very well most of the time. I heard a tv interview with a man from the village in Mexico targeted as the epicenter of the original spread.  He reported arm, back leg bone pain 6 weeks after the onset. These are some of the symptoms of the remedy Eupatorium and indeed that helped a lot of patients this summer along with other remedies, such as China, Phytolacca, Gelsemium and Mercurious Vivus.

Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy made from a patient who had the flu-the same idea as the regular vaccine but made homeopathically. So, you could proactively give it or Influenzinum(another brand of the same idea)1/wk or every other week at the beginning of the season and maybe 2/wk if there is a lot of exposure like at school or day care. Some people feel given 2/day during a case of the flu it helps get rid of it as well. Also keep on hand the above remedies. They can be used to treat according to the specific symptoms (see attachment).If you know from me if there is a remedy that seems to be helping the most with current active cases you can help prevent them by using those remedies in a 200c 1-2/wk.Remember Oscillococcinum dose is 15-20 pellets not the whole vial and remedies can be obtained at your health food store or  NE Homeopathic at 1-800-551-3611. 

Hope this is helpful---Dr.K

I can't see chasing something down that I'm still not sure about.  I am giving the whole family Oscillococcinum once a week.


Explaining God to my Kids

I had the following conversation in the car with my boys the other day. Hopefully, I haven't said anything to offend here. And obviously, this isn't word for word. My memory isn't that good and it's paraphrased.

LT: How old is God? Is he one hundred?

Me: God is much older than that. At least thousands of years old. Nobody knows how old God is. He made the world. He was here before anything else.

LT: Is God alive?

Me: No. God is not alive and he's not dead. He's not a person. He's just God.

T: But God was alive once, right?

Me: No. God was never alive. Jesus was alive. He was God's son.

LT: Oh, so God is Jesus's son?

Me: No. Jesus is God's son.

LT: Is there only one God?

Me: Yes and no. Most people you know will tell you there's one God because they're Christian. But there are many different types of religions and some people believe there is more than one God. Most of those religions are older, but some people still believe in different gods. The Greeks and Romans believed there were all different gods - a sun god, moon god, god of love, god of war. They had gods for everything. And the American Indians believe in lots of different gods too.

    T, do you know what we call a religion that only believes in one God?

T: No.

Me: That's monotheism. And religions that believe in more than one god are called polytheistic. So there's monotheism, and polytheism. Most people that we know are Christians and the are monotheistic. And Christianity is made up of different religions too. Most people we know are Catholic or Protestant, but there is also Judaism and Islam. Catholics and Protestant are similar in what they believe. Jewish people also believe in God, but they do not believe that Jesus was God's son. People who believe in Islam are called Muslim. They believe in one God too, they call him Allah, and they believe in the Bible, but they also have another holy book called the Koran.

    And these are just the Christian religions. There are all different kinds of religions - Buddhism, Hindu and many others.

LT: So there's lots of gods?

Me: Most people we know believe in one God, and they will get angry if you say there is more than one.

T: Why will they get angry?

Me: Because people want to think that what they believe is right. Lots of religious people think that their religion is best and that everyone else should go to their church. Not everyone, but lots of people. So you have to be very careful what you say about God, religion and church around other people, especially people you don't know very well.

    This is why Mommy doesn't like religion very much. Churches do lots of great things, like soup kitchens where they feed people who are poor and don't have a home, they raise money for people who are sick. But they do some bad things too. Sometimes they're mean to people who don't believe what they do. And sometimes they even convince people to go to war and kill people who don't believe in their religion. Many, many people have died because of religion. I think we should be able to have all the good parts of the church without all of the bad parts.

T: I never knew that.

He has an excuse. He's only eight.

Don't you wish you had time to prepare for these huge, existential conversations with your kids? I mean, it's not like I haven't given this topic some serious thought, and have some historical and religious knowledge to explain this. But I would have done some reading the night before if I'd known I was going to give a twenty minute lecture on God and religion the following day.


Yes, I'm Seriously Inappropriate

I probably shouldn't let my eight-year-old watch horror movies, but I do. And since I let my eight-year-old watch them, well, the five-year-old watches them too. Usually he falls asleep five minutes in before anything scary happens. Usually, but not always. I guess I just only have so much fight in me, and since Blackstone and I just love a good horror movie, I figure it's just encoded in his DNA.

When Trouble was maybe three, he walked in on me watching Thirteen Ghosts. Pretty gruesome movie if you haven't seen it. I didn't realize he was in the room right away, and as soon as I did, I changed the channel. He had a fit. "Put it back! Put it back!" he yelled.

He started watching Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings movies around this time too. He was one of very few three-year-olds asking to watch Frodo over and over again I'm willing to bet. Nothing ever scared him. Nothing gave him nightmares. Still, I've tried to curb him from some of the more terrifying movies, or at least what I'd consider scarier. I know plenty of grown adults that are scared watching Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. But Blackstone and my dad are even less restrictive than I am. So they were watching Alien vs. Predator and Eight Legged Freaks, and who knows what else, years ago. They absolutely love it. I still try to keep it to the lower end of scary. I'm fighting a losing battle. I lose more and more ground every year.

They had been playing outside a couple weekends ago and happened to walk in shortly after I flipped on The Mist. That was gruesome. I'm going to give away the ending here, so if you haven't seen it, and don't want me to give it away, stop reading now. *SPOILER*. Honestly, had I known it was a movie about huge, killer bugs, I might have never put it on. Bugs are seriously not my thing. It's based on a Steven King story. One I probably read, but don't remember. I read a lot. I forget at least half of everything I read. The boys were enthralled. The only thing that appalled them was the ending, which was not so scary but seriously, ironically tragic. It certainly sparked some interesting conversation. Not just the ending, but the demented, religious zealot, offering any unbeliever to the giant, other-worldy bugs as offerings to appease God, who obviously unleashed them on us as punishment for our sinful ways. Perhaps Trouble has a slightly better understanding of my opposition to church now. So that, and the ending in which the main character shoots all the other passengers in the car, including his son, so they don't have to be eaten alive by the bugs, raised some questions. He would have shot himself too, only there weren't enough bullets. So he goes outside awaiting his terrible fate, only to have the mist begin to clear and the army arrive. Now that's something difficult to explain to a child.

It hadn't really occurred to me after having watched all of these scary movies, that I would eventually find one that scared Trouble. Really never thought it would happen. It did. And oddly enough, I didn't think the movie was that scary. No one actually died in the time span of the movie. Oh there were ghosts of people, bodies that had died long ago. But none of the main characters in the current story died. Again *SPOILERS* people. The Haunting in Connecticut has had Trouble sleeping with his light on for a week. At the end of the movie, the poor, sick kid tormented by all the ghosts is cured of his terminal cancer. I mean, yes, it was scary. Yes, there were dead bodies in the wall. Gross. Not nearly as gross or scary as watching spiders hatch inside a person and eat him alive. At least, not in my mind. Trouble seems to have a different opinion.

I figure it must be because huge killer bugs seem so outrageous, so far out of our reality, but maybe spirits of the dead, are a little too easy to imagine as real? I guess I'd better be sure not to let him know that it's supposed to have been based on a true story. Of course, I take all that with a grain of salt, but something tells me Trouble wouldn't.

So has that stopped me from letting him watch scary movies? Not really. I've started watching the series Supernatural recently and they love that. And they saw Coraline this weekend. *SPOILER* A kids movie, but pretty scary, and honestly, another scary spider. EEeeww. I've had enough with the damn bugs lately. Animated, mechanical, or otherwise. I've always had a spider phobia. Nothing terrible. But I do yell for Blackstone to come kill them for me. Apparently, that's nothing compared to my babysitter. I had to take down some of our Halloween decorations; the spider web and fake spiders, and the large mechanical one that drops from the ceiling when you clap. Now that's some serious arachnophobia.

So this Halloween will be spider-free and will probably still find Trouble sleeping with his light on. At least I bought some of the new energy saving bulbs. You can get them in soft light now, too. They're not nearly as terrible as they were at first. I can't stand flourescents and these are do-able. Peace of mind for me. Peace of mind for him. And we can still have our horror movies. Everybody wins!


My Life as a Football Mom

You may have wondering where I've been lately. When in doubt, look on the football field. In August, we had practice five nights a week for two hours. Now, since we have two boys playing and practice nights differ, we still have football four nights a week for an hour and a half to two hours and three hours worth of warm up and game time on Sunday starting at 8 AM. (Not to mention two hours of cub scouts on Monday and Saturday activities.) This Sunday in Needham. Mass. The period was not a mistake. Needham. Mass. Ugh. Last Sunday I spent three hours watching football in the rain. We were all soaked to the bone. It took me hours with a heating pad to get my core temperature back to normal. Only for my flesh blood. Honest to god.

We have done dance lessons, karate, swim, baseball, basketball. I was not prepared for football. Someone should have warned me. Someone should have given me lessons on how to put on all that gear. Someone should have told me to trick my kids into soccer instead. Someone should have grabbed me by the shoulders and shaken some sense into me.

At first, the boys didn't like it much either. LT flat out refused to go to practice twice. There's no forcing a five-year-old onto the field when he doesn't want to go. Somewhere in the last two weeks he's suddenly decided he LOVES football. I don't know how. I don't know why. I seriously hope he changes his mind again before next August. Now he all but sleeps with a football. And he has the potential to be GOOD. You can see it already. Honestly, you could see it when he was six months old, and I'm not a woman who sees these things. In fact, I'd really prefer to ignore it. Maybe he'll decide he hates it again. *Sigh*

Trouble is not exactly your model football player. He has cried at nine out of ten practices. It does not phase me in the least to see my son lying on the ground crying. Other boys would have to be in absolute agony. Not Trouble. He's a drama queen. He cracks the heck out of his coaches. They find him as entertaining as all get out. He came up to his coach after one of the plays at practice and told him, "I didn't block."

Coach says, "that's okay."

Trouble explains, "I didn't block because I forgot how."

Coach laughs as he tells me later. "At least he's honest."

Trouble did assist in couple of tackles last Sunday, though. For one of the smallest kids, he'll really go after the other kids regardless. He does have moments he loves it, but he really doesn't get it. Not any more than LT at this point. Not any more than me. I just learned Sunday that you get five downs every time you go ten yards. I thought you got five downs to get a touchdown. I couldn't figure out why they kept starting over while they moved down the field. I've simply never cared enough or watched long enough to notice. It's different when it's your kid on the field. I've been trying to explain that phenomena to Blackstone for years now. It doesn't matter whether or not I like to watch sports on TV, watching your kids play is different. I could care less about watching a bunch of over-sized, over-paid, steroid-popping, sorry-excuses for role models, throw a ball around. I will, however, invest myself in anything my kids show a sincere desire to do, as long as it's legal. And that statement may have a hockey caveat.

Even I have my limits.


The Help

I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stocket and just loved it. Struck me as a cross between Gone with the Wind and Little Women. Ms. Stocket does a great job of writing in the voice of an oppressed black woman, which she had apprehension about trying to do. Of course, I'm just another white woman, so perhaps my opinion isn't the best to judge by. But to me, it rang very true.

There have been many books written about slavery, racism, and oppression, but it's still shocking to me that this was going on in America just forty years ago. It's one of those things that you know to be true, but every time you hear it, it's still shocking.

The characters Ms. Stocket creates are unforgettable. Aibileen, a woman of intelligence, bravery, a great writer and kind soul, working as a maid, living alone after the death of her only child. Minny, loud and strong, never afraid to speak her mind or stand up for herself, except when it comes to her abusive husband. Miss Celia, a woman who married above her class, but is shunned by every woman in town for her white trash ways. Miss Hilly, the queen bee, socialite extraordinaire, that rules the town with her elitism and prejudice packaged as the healthy, christian way of life. She ends up eating shit. Literally. So wonderful when a character gets their just desserts.

And you can't leave out Miss Skeeter. A woman who believes there's more that defines a woman than getting married and having kids. She's the central character that brings it all together. With her explosive idea to write a book documenting the lives of maids in her hometown, she begins crossing a line that's seriously dangerous in Mississippi in the 1960's. But as Aibileen tells us, there were never any lines anyway. "I used to believe in em. I don't anymore. They in our heads. People like Miss Hilly is always trying to make us believe they there. But they ain't."

The book is also a reminder of how important words can be, how powerful it is to have a voice. Minny worries repeatedly that they're risking their lives to write this book, and why? How important can it be, what they're doing, telling what it is to be a maid. "This ain't . . .  we aint' doing no civil rights here. We just telling stories like they really happen."

But isn't that the lesson of the novel? The importance of our real life stories? Just telling your story, having that voice, is a freedom, a right. The power in speaking up, of saying the way things really are, there's often no braver or more political an act. Fiction or no, it's a statement.

Many of the most notorious moments of the sixties are woven seamlessly through the novel: the Ku Klux Klan, the assassination of JFK, the Freedom March led by Martin Luther King. To imagine what it must have been to a be a black woman in Mississippi during that time, it's heart wrenching and terrifying. Or even to be a white woman in Mississippi trying to defy the expectations of marriage and children, recognizing the racism all around you perpetuated by your friends and family for the hate that it actually is.  

The Help is a passionate story of women and our universal bonds. As Miss Skeeter realizes by the end of the novel: "Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought. But Lou Anne, she understood the point of the book before she ever read it. The one who was missing the point this whole time was me."

Isn't it great when you finally get it?


Home Improvement

I have been sleeping on the floor of my living room for a month now. On my mattress on the floor, but still the floor. Our living room is now our temporary bedroom. This is a result of the water damage done to our bedroom after the roofers took the shingles off over part of bedroom right before it torrentially downpoured. I was not home to see the damage occur. Blackstone and the kids were. It wasn't pretty.

While I do partially blame the contractor for not paying more attention to the weather, there was a 30-75% chance of shower almost every day in May and June. Sometimes it rained. Many days it didn't. If it did rain, it was often for about 15 minutes and then it was over. There was really no knowing what the hell was going on.

They should have been more prepared with tarps to cover the roof. They had a tarp. It wasn't big enough. They had to use one of ours too. And when they put the tarps up, they made the horrendous mistake of putting them over the gutters instead of under them. Our gutters run into a dry well which backed up and over flowed the gutter. We had a waterfall in our bedroom.

Our contractor assured us it would dry out and be fine. I would have called my insurance company immediately, except Blackstone had hired his uncle. Be forewarned. If you ever have a waterfall in your bedroom, call your insurance company immediately.

We ran a dehumidifier in our room for days, but still after a few days I started noticing it didn't smell right. At that point it was fourth of July weekend. Blackstone was gone, trying to reach anyone would be pointless. I was still loath to call the insurance company on family. I looked up the number of a specialized cleaning company that deals with mold. I gave my husband the number the day he got back and told him to get someone out to the house. They, of course, told us we had mold growing from the water damage and the wall and part of the ceiling would have to removed. It's also important to note here, that if you do experience terrible water damage to your home, if you get the cleaning company out there within the first 72 hours, they can dry it out without the damaged areas having to be completely gutted. I seem to always learn the useful tidbits of information after I need them. Perhaps I can spare you that pain and aggravation.

We explained all this to the Uncle who disagreed that we had any mold problems. He told us the cleaning company was just trying to make a buck. Once he finished the roof, we had him open a section of the wall. Guess what? Mold. And lots of it. At this point, we'd already moved out of the bedroom. My worst allergy is to mold and mildew. I didn't need any further proof than my own damn stuffed nose and itchy eyes to know the cleaning company wasn't making this sh*t up.

At that point, we just laid it all out. We had no choice but to call the insurance company and have the mold removed by an experienced company. The Uncle still disagreed. He said he could do the repairs himself. He did not, however, believe that part of the ceiling had to be removed. Even after I pointed out the mold growing visibly, albeit very tiny spores, on the ceiling.

"Just water stains," he insisted.

"No," I insisted right back. "In the water stains, there's mold."

We called the insurance company. Again, I was not here to experience the joy of being interrogated by the gustapo, aka the Insurance agent, who was none too thrilled that we had waited two weeks to call this in. They did cover the repairs though, because in the long run, it's going to be the contractor's insurance shelling out the cash. Of course the real kicker in all this is that the Uncle is not licensed in RI (only MA) and has let his insurance lapse. This was a bold faced lie told to us. We had asked him if he was insured and he told us he was.

I will never allow a contractor to do such drastic work on my house without having copy of their license and insurance in my hand. And that contractor will likely never be family again.

Luckily, one of the guys he had working with him is licensed in RI and has insurance. He's the one that's going to get screwed in all this. The Uncle is trying to work out some kind of deal here, to prevent any serious problems. The Uncle has been on vacation, and the licensed guy and his buddy did the repairs on our bedroom.

But now that our bedroom has been half gutted, we've decided to put in a radiant heat floor. We have electric base boards in our bedroom that are expensive and provide seriously awful heat. It's dry and dusty. Our bedroom was originally a garage, and that room gets extremely cold in the winter. The floor is always freezing, so radiant heat would be a great improvement. We purchased purgo to put in over the heating pads, and Blackstone, his brother, and a buddy ripped up the floor planks this past weekend. Guess what? No insulation to speak of under the floor. Nope. Just some two-by-fours over the concrete slab. No wonder it gets so f-ing cold in there.

I've no doubt that our bedroom will come out of this more fabulous than before, and that perhaps there's a silver lining here.

Right now, I just want my bedroom back. That and my walkway that Blackstone had jack hammered up two months ago that is still a pile of rubble. By the end of the summer I've told him. I WANT my damn walkway back. I was happy enough with it the way it was to begin with.

I'm really hoping after this, that there are no more home improvement projects for a while. Of cousre, Blackstone's already talking about radiant heat floors for his office. Lord help us. How much home improvement can one marriage take? We've been at this for two years now. The floor refinishing, wall paper removal, painting, an entire new kitchen, three new toilets, a new roof. I mean, it's great when it's done. But when do we really get to be DONE? You know, as in, there is no room in my house or part of my lawn that is torn up right now?

When they ask you what finally drove me over the edge, you'll know what to tell them, right?

She just couldn't take any more home improvement. Just give her a prescription of Xanax and keep her away from the circular saw and everything will be just fine.